Forbes Trail was precursor to much of Pa’s LH

A new web site commemorates the 250th anniversary of Forbes Trail, hacked through the forests of Pennsylvania in 1758 during the French and Indian War. General John Forbes led an expedition from Philadelphia over the Allegheny Mountains to capture French-occupied Fort Duquesne, at what later became Pittsburgh. Among the 6,000 British and colonial troops was young George Washington, a 26-year-old colonel with the Virginia troops. The site is a project of French and Indian War 250, the organization spearheading the commemoration of the French and Indian War.


Forbes Trail (also commonly called Forbes Road) was closely followed or paralleled by the Lincoln Highway and US 30 across the state. Only mid-state does it deviate, when the military road jogs north to Carlisle, near Harrisburg. The Lincoln/30 stays south through Gettysburg and Chambersburg.


The web site features seven “gateways” – Philadelphia, Lancaster, Carlisle, Fort Loudoun, Bedford, Ligonier, and Pittsburgh – where visitors can click to learn its connection to the trail and what historical remnants survive.

A long-anticipated book is due in May. Pennsylvania’s Forbes Trail: Gateways and Getaways along the Legendary Route from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh ($18.95) will feature more than 40 themed tours with info on activities, lodging, and dining.


I asked French and Indian War 250 Marketing Director Karen Lightell about the difference between calling it Road and Trail. She said they “chose ‘Forbes Trail’ to avoid confusion because many people see the Forbes Road as extending only from Carlisle to Pittsburgh—i.e., the road the Forbes Expedition actually built. They traveled from Philadelphia on existing roadways. ‘Forbes Trail’ is meant to imply the entire experience ‘today’ of the corridor along the original Forbes route as described in the book.”

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